Tunisian authorities have arrested 18 people in the wake of protests that erupted after the suicide of a journalist who set himself on fire to protest economic problems officials said.
Among arrested 13 are from the provincial city of Kasserine and five others from Tebourba, near Tunis, Interior Ministry spokesman Sofiane Zaag said.
The most violent protests erupted in Kasserine, in west central Tunisia, where police used tear gas to disperse violent demonstrators throwing stones. According to ShemsFM radio, the military was deployed to reinforce police to deal with the protests and secure state buildings.
The EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn condemned the terrorist attack in Tunis, committed by a woman (29) suicide bomber; who blew herself up near police vehicles in the center of the Tunisian capital, killing one policeman and injuring nine pedestrians.
The attack followed a chain of terrorist acts since June 2015, when 38 people were killed in a shooting rampage at the coastal resort of Sousse targeting tourists, while an attack the same year on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis left 22 people dead.
The terror attacks targeted Tunisia’s crucial tourism sector, which at times reached seven percent of gross domestic product.
The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when an IS-claimed suicide bombing in Tunis killed 12 presidential guards.
The state of emergency was extended earlier this month until November 6, amid a tense political climate ahead of legislative and presidential elections planned for next year.
Coastguards continue to recover bodies of migrants drowned in a shipwreck in the Mediterranean on Sunday (3/05/2018), reportedly the boat had sank next to Tunisian coast.
Tunisian authorities said 47 bodies were recovered off the country’s southern coast, close to the city of Sfax, while NGOs presume there were more passengers on the crowded boat.
“The coastguard and the navy continue their search with the support of a military plane,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo cautioning on Twitter that the final number of missing was still uncertain.
Meanwhile on a visit to Sicily Italy’s new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said that the island must stop being “the refugee camp of Europe“.
The leader of the Lega Nord party said his government’s plans on migrants were not “hard line… but common sense”.
Salvini added that increasing deportations and limiting new arrivals would end up in saving lives, discouraging illegal migrants to take a risky adventure in Mediterranean waters.
Italian police arrested five Maghrebins as part of a major operation against suspected supporters of Islamist terrorism in central and southern Italy. Previously a teacher, indoctrinating children with martyrdom ideology was also arrested in counter-terrorism operation.
“A vast anti-terrorism operation” was being carried out by special investigation forces based in Rome and region, namely in the nearby town of Latina, police said in a statement.
The five Tunisians detained are suspected of being part of a broader network connected to Anis Amri, the other migrant from Tunis who killed 12 people when he drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin (2016).
Amri was shot dead by Italian police near Milan four days after the Berlin attack.